Last time, I ended our discussion with this question. Is the action of laying aside the old self and putting on the new self a once and done event as easily accomplished as flipping a switch? Can we simply set the old man aside, and fully step out in the new man forever from this day forward? The short answer, confirmed by Scripture and our own experience, is no. But our heart is not the problem.
The word “heart” is the most common description of man’s essence in the Bible. The heart is the center of our motives, understanding, choices, and actions. Familiar passages such as Jeremiah 17:9, “The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked; who can know it?” describe the unregenerate heart. And this lost heart, prior to Christ, controls our unregenerate actions. The New Testament identifies our former heart as the home of our sinful nature and describes the lost as “children of wrath, controlled by their sinful nature” (Eph 2:3).
But that all changed when you accepted Christ’s gift of deliverance. When you embraced the gospel message of Jesus Christ, you received a new heart and a new nature. “Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh” (Ez 36:26). “Heart of flesh” does not refer to a fleshly heart in the spirit vs. flesh sense. The term describes a soft warm beating heart in place of our old stone-cold dead heart. As Watchman Nee wrote in The Normal Christian Life, “The heart, God says, is ‘desperately sick’ and He must do something more fundamental than cleanse it. He must give us a new one.”
And a new heart we have. Our old heart, our old self, our old nature were crucified with Christ on the cross (II Cor 5:14, Rom 6:6). Our old heart was not cleaned up. It was replaced by a new one, a heart no longer deceitful and wicked, but a heart with the law of God written upon it (Jer 31:33, Heb 10:16). And is it is just one of the “new” we received and celebrate in this list; a new identity, a new nature, a new Spirit, a new heart, a new life, a new self, a new purity, a new birth, a new disposition, and a new power over sin.
The one “new” missing from this list is our mind. And this is where the problem lies. Often in the New Testament, right beside the promise of our new self is the instruction to renew our minds. “In reference to your former manner of life, lay aside the old self…and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth” (Eph 4:22-24).
Our old minds have not been replaced. Our old minds do need cleaned up. Our minds need to be made aware and enlightened to the ongoing truth and promise of the gospel. Our minds need to be renewed, made fresh, changed in our way of thinking. But there is hope and help in this process. Our old mind has now become what I call “Christ-compatible” (I Cor 2:16). What this means for the “renewing the mind” process will be the theme next time.